Massey University is implementing a two-phase regional training program to strengthen epidemiology and biosecurity capacity within a One Health framework in seven countries in South Asia. The program is funded by the European Commission through the Avian and Human Influenza Trust Fund administered by the World Bank (Grant No. TF098536). The beneficiary countries are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Phase 1 delivered a formal Masters degree training program in epidemiology and biosecurity to 68 medical doctors and veterinarians from June 2010 to September 2011.
Phase 2 further develops in-country and regional capacity in epidemiology and biosecurity by strengthening national institutions that are directly or indirectly responsible for diagnosis, preparedness, response, prevention and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and other zoonoses in each country. The One Health concept has been operationalised by developing multi-disciplinary teams operating within 'One Health Hubs' in each country, which serve as communication and collaboration networks focussed on epidemiology and biosecurity, and through the design and implementation of collaborative investigation projects on priority zoonoses. These collaborative investigation projects in turn serve as a focus for provision of further specialised training, and extension of capacity building activities beyond the Phase-1 graduates.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 have been integrated to create a seamless transition from the degree training program into broader operational work that will extend involvement and training in One Health activities to a wider network of professional and scientific personnel in the participating countries and throughout the South Asia Region. This approach aims to broaden capacity and contribute to establishing sustainable One Health activities and build momentum of the One Health agenda in the region.
Consultants from leading institutions around the world including Massey University have been engaged to ensure the participating countries fully benefit from both regional and world-wide and expertise, have access to the best scientific knowledge and information available, and develop relationships for the future with leading international experts and institutions globally.
Effective liaison with other national and international agencies involved in One Health activities in the region also provides valuable context and opportunities for professional networking and additional collaboration, contributing to the effectiveness and sustainability of the One Health Hubs. Wherever possible, activities delivered under this project will be designed to complement ongoing or completed Bank IDA and/or AHIF financed avian and human influenza projects.
The program objective is to strengthen institutional capacities in epidemiology and biosecurity by introducing and operationalising the One Health concept in selected national institutions of the Beneficiary Countries, which are directly or indirectly responsible for diagnosis, preparedness, response, prevention and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and other zoonoses in domestic poultry and other animals.
To achieve the program Objective, six project activities have been implemented. These project activities are part of an integrated systematic approach and the order in which these are listed does not necessarily reflect the temporal sequence of implementation. For example, the regional knowledge-sharing workshop described as activity A.1 below, will take place at the end of the project in 2013, and the Needs Assessments describod under activity B.2 were conducted at the beginning of the project in early 2012.
Activity A.1: A regional knowledge-sharing workshop in epidemiology and biosecurity has been organised at the end of the program in 2013 for key participants in the One Health Hubs, people from the Government Ministries or their representatives, regional and international experts, and representatives of the donor and international agencies, to provide a forum for inter-ministerial and cross-sectoral dialog focussed on ensuring the sustainability of the One Health Hubs, and presenting the results of project activities, engaging participants in a regional-level zoonotic disease simulation exercise, and providing additional specialised training as required. A key outcome sought from this workshop is commitment by the key institutions within the Ministers of Health and Agriculture from each of the countries to jointly maintain the One Health Hubs and collaborative activities between their ministries in pursuit of a sustainable One Health agenda in the region.
Activity B.1: One Health Hubs will be established by agreements between the key institutions within the respective Ministries of Health and Agriculture or Livestock in each country to provide the organisational and operational framework inside which the capacity building One Health activities sit, and to provide leadership and coordination at both national and regional levels. The One Health Hubs will be connected to form an informal South Asia Region One Health Network, underpinned by ‘Hubnet’– a database with associated web-based information technologies providing powerful tools for communication, professional networking, collaboration and resource sharing within and between the Hubs.
Activity B.2: Needs assessments building on workshops and in-country consultations with senior ministry officials held during the course of Phase 1 will be conducted in each country at the beginning of Phase 2 to identify zoonotic disease priorities and critical needs and key constraints to achieving a coordinated One Health approach. These needs assessments will include requirements for goods, services and training, and serve as the primary focus guiding the subsequent selection and planning of operational One Health Hubs activities including Collaborative Investigation Projects (CIPs, B.3) and provision of international expert assistance and specialised training (B.4) to help ensure successful operationalization of the One Health Hubs as central coordination and communication networks in each country.
Activity B.3: Focussed on zoonotic disease priorities identified above, One Health Hub activities and Collaborative Investigation Projects (CIPs) will be conducted within each Hub to strengthen capability and capacity at both national and regional levels, and to assist in meeting the critical needs and resolving key constraints identified by the needs assessments (B.2). The CIPs also provide an important vehicle and opportunity for further building national expertise through the provision of international expert assistance and specialised training (B.4). The projects will address real issues of national and regional importance and be planned in consultation with the governments of the participating countries and regional stakeholders to deliver outcomes formulated into policy recommendations to aid government decision making.
Activity B.4: International expert assistance and specialised operational training will be provided according to identified needs to further strengthen capacity in the region and broaden this beyond the Phase-1 participants to other key organisations and individuals involved in the One Health Hubs. This will be in the form of international mentors and experts and specific operational training for the CIPs, training and support in the use of Hubnet, and regional workshops on specialised epidemiological analysis and policy development. Specialised epidemiological software and equipment to enhance surveillance and biosecurity capacity in each country, according to the results of the needs assessments conducted (above) may also be provided.
Activity C.1: Project leadership, oversight, management and reporting will be provided by Massey University to ensure successful delivery and all requirements of the Grant are met.
Future of the One Health Program
A South Asia Regional One Health Symposium will be held in December 2013 for key participants in the One Health Hubs, including technical specialists and senior decision makers and policy directors in the government sector in each country, regional and international experts, and representatives of the donor and international agencies, serving as a regional knowledge-sharing event focussed on One Health epidemiology and biosecurity. The Symposium will provide a forum for inter-ministerial and cross-sectoral dialogue focussed on ensuring the sustainability of the One Health Hubs and agenda, presenting the results of project activities, engaging participants in a regional-level zoonotic disease simulation exercise, and providing additional specialised training as required. Ongoing commitment from each of the countries to jointly maintain the One Health Hubs and collaborative activities between their Ministries nationally and regionally will be sought in pursuit of a sustainable One Health agenda in the region beyond the end of the program funding.
Focussed on zoonotic disease priorities, further collaborations are actively being sought in the region to help ensure continuation of One Health Hub activities that strengthen capability and capacity at both national and regional levels, and to assist in meeting the critical needs and resolving key constraints identified.